“Did you see Miss Kent with anyone in particular, see her leaving with anyone?”

“I can’t say I did. I believe she danced with any number of people. Feel free to ask any of the staff, and I’ll be happy to ask myself.”

“You do that. We’ll need an address, Mr. Vadim.”

“Dorian, please. I’m known as Dorian. I can be reached here. I’m living upstairs at the moment. Let me give you a card.” He waved his fingers, flicked them, and a glossy black card appeared between the index and middle finger. As he passed it to Eve, his fingers brushed down her palm, lingered for just an instant too long. Then he smiled. “I tend to sleep days.”

“I bet. One more thing. Can you verify your whereabouts from midnight to three this morning?”

“I would have been here. As I said, I’m most often here.”

“Anybody vouch for that?”

His lips quirked again, in a kind of smug amusement that put her back up. “I imagine so. You might ask any of the staff or the regulars. Allesseria?” He turned his black gaze from Eve’s face to the bartender. “You were on last night. Didn’t we speak some time after midnight?”

“I was on until two.” Allesseria kept her eyes locked on Dorian’s. “You were, ah, working the floor before I left, came by the bar for a spring water just before I clocked out. At two.”

“There you are. Lieutenant, it’s been a pleasure.” He took her hand, held it firmly. “But I really need to get back to work. Roarke. I hope you’ll both come back, for the entertainment.”

Through the fog that shimmered and curled, he glided off again, easing his way through the crowd. Eve shifted her body, stared hard at the bartender. “You want to tell me why you lied for him?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Busily now, Allesseria wiped the bar.

“You don’t see a woman whose face is all over the screen and mags, and she comes in at least twice, hangs with your boss. You don’t make her.” Some of the anger she felt for herself snapped out in her voice. “But you remember Dorian got a spring water at two in the morning.”

“That’s right.”

“I need your full name.”

“You’re going to cost me my job if you don’t back off.”

“Full name,” Eve repeated.

“Allesseria Carter. If you have any more questions, I’m calling a lawyer.”

“That’ll do it for now. You remember anything, get in touch.” Eve laid one of her cards on the bar before she stepped away. “If that wasn’t Kent’s Prince of frigging Darkness pigs are currently dive-bombing Fifth Avenue.”

“Blood will tell,” Roarke said quietly.

“Bet your fine ass.”

Once they were out on the street, Peabody’s sigh was long and heartfelt. “Man. Creepshow—even if the Lord of the Undead is intensely sexy.”

“Looked like another freak to me,” McNab muttered.

“You’re a guy who likes women. If you were a woman who liked men, we’d still be rolling your tongue back into your mouth. He completely smoked, right, Dallas?”

Women had found her father attractive, Eve thought. No matter what he’d done to them.

“I’m sure Tiara Kent thought the same even as he was draining the life out of her. I’m going to call a black-and-white for you. I want you to take the blood sample directly to the lab, wait while it’s logged in.”

“Got it.” Peabody took the sample, stowed it in her bag.

“I’ll run our host, and the bartender. This isn’t his first time around the block—and she was lying about seeing him this morning. Lab comes through quickly enough, we’ll be giving Vadim a very unpleasant wake-up call.”

They separated, and as she walked Eve gave Roarke a quick hip bump. Now that she was on the street, away from Vadim, away from those pulsing lights, she felt herself again. “You’re quiet.”

“Contemplating. He was scoping you, you know. Subtle but quite deliberate.” When she started to jam her hands into her pockets, Roarke took one, brought it casually to his lips. “He wanted to see your reaction—and mine.”

Tags: J.D. Robb In Death Mystery
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